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Aug 10, 2012 10:36 AM by AP

St. Helena School Board seeking tax increases

GREENBURG, La. (AP) - The St. Helena Parish School Board has voted to roll forward its existing millages and seek voter approval for a new one.

The board voted unanimously Thursday night to levy the district's three parish-wide millages at their maximums: 3.38 mills for the constitutional tax, 9.48 mills for the building maintenance tax which expires in 2013, and 5 mills for the construction and maintenance tax that was renewed by voters earlier this year.

Superintendent Kelli Joseph told The Advocate the roll forward will allow the district to collect about $30,000 more in 2012.

The board also considered six options for a potential tax proposition to put before voters later this year, and ultimately voted 5-1 to move forward on the option requiring the fewest mills

Ranging from 25.8 mills to 49.2 mills, the options factored in various combinations and levels of employee pay raises, campus renovations, new construction and operation costs, according to School Board documents.

The option selected would ask voters to approve a total of 25.8 mills to be used as follows: 11.2 mills to provide $6,000 pay raises to all certified employees, 5.2 mills to provide $3,500 pay raises to all noncertified employees, and 9.4 mills to provide $8.5 million worth of renovations to existing school facilities, the documents show.

Joseph said the option the board selected was the one she preferred because "it's giving teachers a substantial pay raise but also enables us to truly renovate our existing facilities. It's also a millage I think the community can support."

The pay raises are necessary to teacher recruitment and retention, she said.

Renovations would be made to the high school gym and auditorium; elementary school classrooms, gym and cafeteria; new parking and driveway as well as additional classrooms at the elementary school; stadium lighting; and a new track, Joseph said.

Galmon suggested holding the public hearings on the proposed tax during meetings in each of the parish's wards.

The board will have a bond attorney draft the necessary paperwork to move forward.

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